Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The carrot and the stick!

Diplomacy is all about perceptions. In the last two years the US have been cajoling, admonishing and even sometimes threatening Syria to change its behavior in regards to Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. Until now all that has failed...

I think the US failed on that front because the Syrian are convinced that the US can only do the talking but not the acting, especially in few of the Iraqi quagmire the US is struggling with in Iraq –although the surge seems to be working-. Therefore sending a couple of warships to sail close by the Lebanese-Syrian shores is a step in the right direction. But, and I stress, it is only one step!

If the US is serious with behavior change in Syria they need to up the pressure and show a “bigger stick”. Searching ships bound to Syria in International waters, making a few forays in Syrian waters.

Because the Syrian regime only bows to force, or the real threat of force, neither logic nor diplomacy gets to it. And a relevant historical precedence could reveal much about the Syrian regime and its modus operandi.

In the 90’s of last century, the Syrian hosted PKK bases, from which the Kurdish guerrilla launched attacks into Turkey. Additionally, Abdullah Ocalan (the leader of PKK, at that time) was happily living in Damascus under the protection of Assad’s regime, just like Hamas’’ Mashaal and the late Mughnieh of Hezbollah.

So despite many requests, diplomatic efforts and reconciliation initiative between Turkey and Syria, the PKK kept its attack and no change loomed on the horizon. The Turks got fed up; they massed their army on the border and gave the Syrian an ultimatum: shut down the PKK, surrender Ocalan or we will attack. One day later Ocalan was kicked out of Syria to face his fate alone and the PKK base camps were closed...

PS: This was my 200th post. Another milestone goes by. My sincere thanks for all my readers and especially for those who leave their comments and feedback.